A curious song with a possible long pedigree. The play “The longer thou livest, the more foole thou art,” registered 1569, has the lyric
Tom a lin and his wife, and his wives mother
They went ouer a bridge all three together,
The bridge was broken, and they fell in,
The Deuil go with all quoth Tom a lin.
Variants on the hero’s name include Tom Berlin/Boleyn, Bolinn, Tam o’ the linn, and even Old Sam Naxey and Old John Wallis. In some cases he is a ‘gentleman born’ and in others a ‘Scotsman born’. Be that as it may, versions have turned up on both sides of the Atlantic even well into the 20th century.